What Great Sales Managers Do?
Many sales managers will be sitting down with their sales people over the next month or so to do mid-year reviews to gauge progress on objectives, business plans, and development plans.
Sales managers spend a considerable amount of time preparing for a mid-year performance review. Sales managers may spend a day per rep preparing and deliver a mid-year review. Many managers have an average of 8-10 sales reps, so all the time that goes into this review is significant.
Last week I was speaking with Annie who is one of my favorite coaching clients. She expressed how excited she was about the process. She said, “there isn’t a lot of opportunities in the year to reflect on the positive accomplishments the reps have made.”
This led me to think about the mid-year review process. Below you will find my insights.
How Do Sales Managers Look at the Process?
There are two ways a sales manager can look at the mid-year review.
Some sales managers see it as a pain in the ass. For these managers the review process means more work, having difficult conversations with their reps, keeping their salespeople accountable and doing a course correction.
Contrary to this view, Annie was pumped about the opportunity to review successes, gain commitments to new actions, develop next steps and help move the business forward. She was completely comfortable with what she was going to do and felt it was the most critical time the year.
It is obvious that the manager’s attitude on conducting mid-year reviews have a tremendous impact on the value of the time invested.
What is the Objective of the Mid-Year Review?
Human Resources tend to see mid-year reviews as an essential process that ensures that salespeople/employees will have no surprises at the end of the year. They expect the manager to highlight any deficiencies in performance and address behavioral issues with their rep.
That’s one way to look at it.
Great sales leaders/coaches understand that the objective of the mid-year review is an opportunity to review and celebrate successes. Sales reps have a chance to take a look at their business and make necessary adjustments.
What to Cover in a Mid-Year Review?
1. Review Business Plans
Part of the mid-year review has the sales rep update the manager on how their business plan is progressing and what their plans are for the balance of the year. The sales rep should come prepared with an idea of how they are going to accelerate their business in the back half of the year. See my article on Conducting Impactful Quarterly Business Reviews for best practices.
2. Review Development Plans
This is the most important part of the mid-year review! Taking time to review how your sales reps coaching & development plans are progressing is critical.
I would ask myself/them:
- Have they improved on the one key skill that is part of their coaching plan?
- Do you see improvement?
- Is it time to refocus on another area in the back half of the year?
Mid-year reviews are a great opportunity to gain a commitment from the sales rep on what they want to focus on from a developmental perspective. Once you have established what they want to work on ask them what specific steps they are prepared to take as part of their development.
Remember the most important role the sales manager plays is improving sales rep performance. You know, moving the B-reps to B+ and the B+ to A! At the end of the day, if this is happening, the sales numbers will come.
3. Review Objectives and Behaviors
If you have specific objectives, KPI’s, and behaviors as part of the sales reps annual review, it is important to review and provide feedback and to make sure that both you, the sales manager and the rep are aligned.
If there are gaps between how you rate your reps vs. how they rate themselves, then you need to ensure the sales rep is aware and has a strong understanding of what “good” looks like so that they are aware of what they need to do to bring up their ratings.
The key is that you have communicated to the rep on how they are progressing with their objectives and behaviors so that there are no surprises at the end of the year.
Finally, as Annie shared with me, given how busy most sales reps and managers are, there is little time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of one’s labor. Great sales managers understand that recognition of successes is a powerful way to engage sales people and reward their great efforts. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to do this on a frequent basis but do not, and I repeat do not miss this opportunity to celebrate the sales reps success. As we know success breeds success.
It is very important for sales managers to spend sufficient time on performance management. The mid-year review is a timely opportunity to get re-focused on business. It is a great time to refine or tweak business plans, sales rep development plans and let the rep know how they are progressing on objectives and behaviors.
During the mid-year review, great sales managers take the opportunity to celebrate sales reps successes and inspire their people to achieve new heights in the back half of the year.